Swelter 44

Real life redux, taking in South Beach on a stray Friday evening, gearing up with the lowest form of social interaction known to mankind, a restaurant opening, touring the attractive Cafe Impala in one minute flat. On to dinner at the Strand with Josh Levine of Forbes, down from New York to research a cover story about the insanely profitable modeling industry, luminaries like Cindy Crawford Inc. approaching the seismographic charge of movie stars. The restaurant a battleground of tumescent headiness and insanity, dining in state like the countess in Daughter of the Regiment and taking in the pussy parade: real models, decorative escorts, and perky strippers, invariably denounced by women who shouldn't be throwing any stones in the floating cathouse. On to other establishments, treading through the sloppy gauntlet of teen-wasteland clubs, not all that inspiring to Levine, a diehard Manhattanite who hadn't been in Florida since 1977: "This is what everybody has been talking about in New York?"

First stop, Bar None, totally losing our grip and going nutso-schizo on a massive bouncer -- a very uncool move -- the place brimming with tales of Hollywood. Joan Cusack, Melanie Griffith, Danny Aiello, and Rosie Perez in town for the Two Much production, currently shooting on Lincoln Road; John Cusack and Don Johnson around, as well. Robin Williams set to come down in April for another movie. Mogul Joel Silver all over town, producing Fair Game and working the big picture, the interplanetary tycoon always accompanied by two assistants bearing portable phones. The club one vast percolating lab culture of flesh, flash, and hustle, Bob Vila, the low-bore home handyman huckster of television, actually granted the status of anchoring a booth of lovelies: Let's tighten up, girls, regain a little perspective on things. Winding down at Niva, Gary James taking a partnership position and hosting a nice little opening party. A drink or two with a table of models -- the sort of sweet, sprightly, and well-bred six-footers who give credit to the industry -- and an intelligent nightlife veteran of the professional classes, good-naturedly questioning our party about credentials and taste for riveting disgust and trash decadence. Lingering at the bar, our favorite nightlife cult figure -- Effraim -- accompanied by his newest real man discovery: Roar, an exceptionally hearty boxer, a brooding presence from Eastern Europe. Effraim, a pioneer of the go-out-every-single-night school, claiming to be heading for Poland, of all places, really and truly over it this time around:

"South Beach used to be a nice little town, where everybody knew each other and nothing much happened. Now there's all this ridiculous hype -- darling, you've got to do something about stopping all the silliness, this celebrity nonsense. The whole city keeps waving its ass in the air like a whore, trying to get fucked by all the money and celebrity. When I see somebody famous in a club, I just run away; the scene has really gotten intolerable. But then, where else can you make a very decent living simply by going to one another's parties?

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